Discussion related to commuter rail and transit operators in California past and present including Los Angeles Metrolink and Metro Subway and Light Rail, San Diego Coaster, Sprinter and MTS Trolley, Altamont Commuter Express (Stockton), Caltrain and MUNI (San Francisco), Sacramento RTD Light Rail, and others...

Moderator: lensovet

  by The EGE
Some, but certainly not all of the reasons:

There's very little governmental workforce in design or planning. It's contractors supervising contractors supervising contractors. There's no incentive to keep costs down, no incentive to make the best decisions, and no incentive to get it done quickly - making it slower, more expensive, and riddled with change orders means more money for the contractors. So you end up with gigantic stations without cross-platform transfers.

The public vote to (partially) fund the project was based on a barely-achievable running time to which the money is legally pinned. So every bad decision costs triple elsewhere to keep the running time.

Local politics, part 1: they're building the Central Valley segment as the initial operating segment because it's the easiest part. But they're not following through with the hardest part (the tunnels to get out of the Central Valley to SF and LA), so it's easy to paint it as a "train to nowhere". And all this in the most conservative part of the state, with massive land-takings because of strange route choices.

Local politics, part 2: the SF entrance is over Caltrain along the Peninsula. That's 45 miles of shared running with much slower commuter rail trains, on a mostly two-track line, with numerous grade crossings. (See previous comment about running time). That decision was made partly on cost, but partly so that Caltrain electrification (a worthy project, but not really related) could get HSR funds. The proper decision would use the Coast Subdivision through the East Bay, which could be built to true HSR standards with no freights and no grade crossings, and a second Transbay Tube to get to SF. A bit more money there, but vastly better running time and operations.
  by Pensyfan19
Some news about this ongoing political debate resulting in nothing getting done.

https://www.newgeography.com/content/00 ... PNumdR7tps
The 12 year saga of the California High Speed Rail Authority and its attempt to build a true high speed train to connect northern and southern California, has been shaken to its core.
At the 4.5 hour Assembly Transportation Committee oversight hearing of May 27th was painted a complete reversal of the unlimited support for the project, which has always been the Democrat caucus position.
At the hearing, not only were the Republican members objecting to the Authority’s plans, but Democrat committee members also joined them in a bi-partisan chorus of objections to the plans and actions proposed in the 2020 business plan.
About the only support for the Authority’s present plans, came in public comments from several dozen speakers, representing labor, City and County agencies etc – really representing support for any group which would financially benefit from the project going ahead — in spite of its failed promises, cost over runs, and shaky, to say the least, funds to complete the project.
The revolt was led by Chair Frazier, who finally has had enough of failed promises, and who wants a different plan.
To this end, an assembly resolution, HR-97,led by Frazier and co-sponsored with a 44 Assembly member majority, has been drafted. When approved by the full Assembly (no Governor signature required), the resolution would prevent approval of remaining Prop 1A bonds ($4.2 billon) from being issued and used to fund the project.
  by Pensyfan19
"Ya done messed up Aaron!" (Mr. Garby, Key and Peele)

https://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2 ... ed-project
Construction errors, along with possible design problems, have halted work on a major bridge for California’s high speed rail project in Central California, the Los Angeles Times reports. The bridge in Madera County, north of the town of Madera, will carry traffic over the high speed and adjacent BNSF Railway tracks. Work started in 2016 and was supposed to be finished in 12 months, but has been stopped since last November because steel strands supporting the structure began snapping. No plan has been finalized to repair the bridge, which is being supported by temporary structures to keep it from collapsing.
  by lensovet
from the original source: https://www.latimes.com/california/stor ... idge-snafu
High-strength steel strands supporting the 636-foot-long structure began to snap on Oct. 22, one after another. Ultimately, 23 of the strands, which are composed of seven individual wires each, broke unexpectedly, according to rail authority documents and officials. The order to stop work was issued Nov. 4.
Good news though, they are fixing it:
The repair plan for the bridge calls for all the strands in all of the four girders to be replaced, Fernandez said. Tutor had started to replace some of the strands shortly after they broke and was told it had to replace those a second time, according to a letter. The plan is currently being reviewed by BNSF headquarters, which has the right to examine any work that occurs over its tracks.

Fernandez said Tutor would have to pay for the cost of the repairs.
  by gokeefe
That's certainly an unusual event. Glad no one has been hurt. Should be interesting to see if there's a design flaw or a materials flaw.

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  by Pensyfan19
According to this video, the CAHSR says it will be utilizing level grade crossings for portions of its route, specifically along the Caltrain leg of the route from San Jose to San Fran. Has this always part of the plan, or has it recently been decided upon for 200mph trains to utilize grade crossings at certain portions of their route?
  by The EGE
Always been the plan for as long as I know. Caltrain has a number of nasty grade crossings; while there are plans to eliminate some of the worst ones (some of which are in progress as part of Caltrain electrification), some will still be in use.
  by lensovet
The grade crossings that are being maintained are due to local opposition to grade separation. There will also be zero 200 mph running on the shared Caltrain corridor.
  by electricron
True, some portions of the CHSR route trains will not be reaching 200 mph speeds, they never promised to go that fast on the peninsula between SF and SJ.
Read this wiki, specifically the speed requirements.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Californi ... Speed_Rail
Maximum nonstop travel times for each corridor must not exceed the following times, according to Proposition 1A:
San Francisco–Los Angeles Union Station: 2 hours, 40 minutes
Oakland–Los Angeles Union Station: 2 hours, 40 minutes
*San Francisco–San Jose: 30 minutes (102 mph average)
*San Jose–Los Angeles: 2 hours, 10 minutes (200 mph average)
San Diego–Los Angeles: 1 hour, 20 minutes
*Inland Empire–Los Angeles: 30 minutes (146 mph average = 73 miles / .5 hour)
*Inland Empire to San Diego : 50 minutes (128 mph average = 107 miles / .83 hour)
Sacramento–Los Angeles: 2 hours, 20 minutes

The truth is they only need to reach 200+ mph speeds is in the valley to meet their promises.

Would it be nicer if they went faster everywhere along the route, yes.
But they do not have to to be competitive per their earlier feasibility studies and to meet their promises which were based on those earlier studies.
  by lensovet
Actually the latest plan requires sustained 220 mph running for a nonstop San Jose to LA route. How on earth that's going to be possible, especially through urban areas, remains to be seen.
  by lpetrich
California High-Speed Rail Authority approves alignment for Central Wye Valley section | International Railway Journal
The section comprises two elements. A west-east alignment follows State Highway 152 from the the terminus of the previous section from San Jose and Gilroy at Carluccio Road to Madera where the high-speed line continues to Fresno. The south-north element runs alongside Road 11 west of Chowchilla to an intersection with the Union Pacific line from where the high-speed line will run north to Merced.
Merced to Fresno - Central Valley Wye Project Section | California High-Speed Rail Authority | State of California has been updated with the preferred option emphasized: Central Valley Wye.psd - Central_Valley_Wye.pdf
  by lpetrich
I checked on Project Sections | California High-Speed Rail Authority | State of California to see what the progress on each one is:
  • San Francisco to San Jose: "Environmental clearance is scheduled to be completed in 2021." - will share tracks with Caltrain
  • San Jose to Merced: "Environmental clearance is scheduled to be completed in 2021." - may be entirely separate from Caltrain or may share tracks with Caltrain between SJ and Gilroy
  • Merced to Sacramento: Phase 2
  • Merced to Fresno: under construction
  • Merced to Fresno - Central Valley Wye: Preferred Alternative selected
  • Fresno to Bakersfield: under construction
  • Fresno to Bakersfield - Locally Generated Alternative: at Final Supplemental EIR/EIS
  • Bakersfield to Palmdale: at Draft EIR/EIS
  • Palmdale to Burbank: at alternatives analysis
  • Burbank to Los Angeles: at alternatives analysis
  • Los Angeles to Anaheim: at alternatives analysis
  • Los Angeles to San Diego : Phase 2
So all of the northern part should be ready to start construction in a year or two.
  by lensovet
…assuming there's still funding for it, of course. unclear to me whatever happened with the whole tussle with the feds.
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